Pilates: A Relaxing Way To Exercise

By: Shannon Brown

It is perhaps the Hollywood glitz and glamour that has everyone into the dieting and exercising fad. One of the most popular exercise programs is Pilates, which is especially designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body through a series of routines. It combines both body movements and breathing patterns.

Pilates is known to increase lung capacity and circulation through exercises that focus on breathing. It also promotes strength and flexibility in the abdomen and the back muscles as well as improving on the coordination of the mind and the muscles. And because the program centers and emphasizes the importance of balance and posture, general health improves along with bone density.

It is perhaps these numerous benefits and the fact that Pilates can be tailor-made and incorporated in routines that make each class costly. Prices for classes range from $10 to $20 for group classes and about $50 to $100 or even more for individual lessons with trained instructors.

How did this start?

Joseph Pilates is a performer and a boxer in England. His fascination for exercise and health issues stem from his being a sickly child. Determined to strengthen his body, he studied, practiced and developed exercises that will improve his health. True enough, he grew to be really strong, choosing professions that would utilize body strength and endurance.

When he was detained with German nationals in Lancaster, he taught fellow camp members the concepts and exercises he developed through years and years of self-study and training in yoga and Zen, not to mention all the other Greek and Roman physical regimens.

It was at this time when he began to devise a system of original “Contrology” exercises now known as “matwork,” which refers to exercise routines done on the floor. When he was taken to another camp where he served as caretaker, he devised equipment that would help rehabilitate his “patients.

The equipment that he made was not much different from what is being used today by people who subscribe to the Pilates program. Spring tension straps are also used in routines to hold the feet and to support the shoulders, neck and head in routines.

Because of its focus on balance and flexibility, Pilates holds much appeal for dancers and performers. Some celebrities, actresses and models, in fact, are enamored by the graceful movements that are incorporated in each routine. Not only does Pilates help improve health and well-being, it also develops proper posture and blood circulation, preventing the occurrence of osteoporosis.

What is more, Pilates does not involve a lot of muscle stress because the routines are gentle and slow similar to dance. There is no running and jumping around. Practitioners do not even need to lift heavy things. This is the reason why doctors often recommend Pilates to patients who have back and spine injuries as well as those afflicted with Arthritis and other muscle ailments. The routines are also good for people who are undergoing rehabilitation and physical therapy.

Pilates is also good for people who are a bit older and those who are overweight. It is in essence a relaxing exercise program, which not only helps in the reduction of weight and improvement of health but also in de-stressing and relaxing the body, mind and the spirit.

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Shannon Brown is the editor of PilatesFactor.com. This site caters to Pilates enthusiasts. You can visit the site at: www.PilatesFactor.com

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